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Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it, “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. Abraham Lincoln Letter to longtime friend and slave-holder, Joshua F. Speed 24 August 1855